Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, everyone.
It's a pleasure to be back with you all today.
I'm sincerely pleased to see the committee's interest in seniors' well-being. As Canada's Minister of Seniors, I spend every day thinking about seniors' needs and how we can better support seniors in their day-to-day lives.
Our government is committed to strengthening Canadian seniors' financial security and improving their quality of life.
Our priority is for seniors to be financially secure.
Some of our first actions for seniors as a government include restoring the age of eligibility for old age security to 65 from 67, increasing the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors and doubling the Canada pension plan for future retirees.
Budget 2021 strengthened all Canadians' financial security later in life. Older seniors are worried about outliving their life savings. As seniors age, their health-related costs rise. All the while, they are more likely to be unable to work, have disabilities or be widowed. To provide short-term support, we'll provide a one-time payment of $500 in August to OAS pensioners who will be 75 and over as of June 30, 2022, and then, in July of 2022, we'll permanently increase the regular old age security pension payments by 10% for seniors aged 75 and up.
This will provide $766 to full OAS pensioners in the first year and be indexed to inflation going forward. The OAS increase will strengthen the retirement income security of Canadians later in life. It's the first permanent increase to the OAS pension since 1973, other than adjustments due to inflation.
This builds on our direct financial support to seniors during the pandemic. We provided an extra GST credit and a one-time payment to seniors eligible for OAS, plus extra support for those who were eligible for a guaranteed income supplement. Altogether, a low-income couple received over $1,500 in tax-free support with their extra costs during the pandemic.
Canada's vaccine program is accelerating. We're on track to receive 40 million doses by the end of June. Our government will always be there as a partner with provinces and territories to help keep people safe. Working together is what will get us through this crisis.
More than eight of every 10 dollars spent to fight COVID-19 and support Canadians continue to come from the federal government. We've procured over a billion pieces of personal protective equipment and tens of millions of rapid tests, which we've been distributing to the provinces and territories. We've funded over 5,000 new horizons for seniors community projects across the country to support seniors during the pandemic.
To better protect seniors in long-term care homes, we'll provide $3 billion to the provinces and territories to ensure that standards for long-term care are applied and permanent changes made. We've invested billions in infection prevention and the wages of long-term care workers and others. We will establish new offences and penalties in the Criminal Code related to elder abuse and neglect.
Across the country, most seniors want to live in their own homes for as long as possible. To help seniors stay in their homes longer as they age, we're launching the age well at home initiative, which will offer practical support to help low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors age in their homes.
Budget 2021 also announced additional funds to repair, build and support affordable housing; make improvements to the criteria for the disability tax credit; provide an additional four weeks of the Canada recovery caregiving benefit; and allocate new funding for veterans and palliative care.
Seniors built the Canada we know and love today. They can be assured that our government will continue to deliver for them.
Thank you again for inviting me to appear before you.
I look forward to your questions and to seeing your findings and recommendations.